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Food Service Manager Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns
Updated December 1st, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Management    

Question 1 of 30

Tell me about your formal customer service training.

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1.

Tell me about your formal customer service training.

The interviewer would like to know about any formal training you have received, related to customer service. This training could include workshops, on-the-job training, courses taken, or even books that you have read in your spare time. Show the interviewer that you have an interest in bettering your customer service delivery and that you can teach others when necessary. This question is a great time to ask the interviewer about their company-specific customer service training and manuals.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I have both given and received customer service training. In my current role, I teach my new employees the basics of customer service excellence in food-service. This training includes advice on building rapport, actively listening, identifying opportunities to exceed expectations, and always delivering service with a smile."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I would be happy to take any training that you recommend and would love to hear more about your specific approach to customer service training. Being new to my career, I am ready to learn!"

2.

How do you feel about saying 'no' to a customer with unreasonable requests?

Working in the food-service industry, you have likely come across some pretty crazy requests from customers! The interviewer is interested in knowing where you draw the line when it comes to outlandish requests or needs that you cannot deliver. Give an example of a time when you had to say no to a customer. Assure the interviewer that you are happy to accommodate anyone within reason! Show that you are comfortable taking control of these types of situations as a manager.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I once had a customer order something from our menu that we did not even have. We were a vegan restaurant, and she wanted a chicken breast added to her salad! She reasoned that she was not a vegan and was only at our restaurant because her friend was vegan. Her friend and surrounding patron were appalled. I had to chuckle a bit at that one. I couldn't deliver the chicken breast, but did offer her some chickpeas instead!"

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I am sure that in retail, there will be customers who want you to deliver the impossible. I am down for a challenge; however, I would like further training on what your company accepts and does not accept in particular customer-focused situations."

3.

Tell me about a time when you effectively delegated tasks to your team members.

The interviewer would like to know that you are capable of confidently delegating tasks to your employees. A great manager is someone who can efficiently manage their time by ensuring an equitable division of jobs while utilizing the strengths of others. Display to the interviewer that you can recognize the talents of your team by delegating tasks that complement their skill sets.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"Every month, in my current management role, I have a meeting with all team members to talk about our plan for the month ahead and how we will delegate the work. It's a great strategy for us, and everyone starts the month with laid out expectations. I like to delegate to the strengths of the individual, rather than expect everyone to be great at everything. I have found that this approach yields fewer staff complaints and stronger staff retention numbers."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"In my most recent group project in school, I had three teammates working on different factors of the project, while I took on another. Each day, we would hold a huddle to delegate and pivot where we needed. We would discuss the current workload and urgency of each person's work. As the group leader, I had no issues dividing the work among the four of us, while also following up on delivery and expectations."

4.

Talk to me about your favorite manager. What made them so memorable?

The interviewer is looking for a positive experience from your work history. Think about a time when you worked for someone who was an active, impactful leader. This question is an excellent opportunity to tell a story about how this person influenced you as a manager. Keep your answer positive and upbeat, providing as much relevant detail as possible.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I have had many fantastic managers; however, my favorite was my very first supervisor at Company ABC. He had so much energy, was very positive, and wasn't afraid to be transparent about the way he did his job. He would share numbers when it came to inventory and cost, and I was able to get an early education on key metrics such as profit and loss. I like to lead in this manner as well since I believe that the more invested I am in my team, the more likely they are to stay for the long term."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"My marketing professor is someone who has had a significant impact on me and has shown me a great deal of what it means to lead with enthusiasm. I have experienced many valuable takeaways from this professor, including how I can best lead my team, gain buy-in from them, and encourage participation."

5.

The presence of our Food Service Manager is critical to our teams' success. How many days were you absent from work last year?

The interviewer would like to know about your dedication to being present and on time to work. A part of being a diligent manager is to ensure that you are always on time and present when expected. It's great to even be 10 minutes early rather than just showing up right on the dot. Talk to the interviewer about your attendance, and how it will positively impact the team members that you will lead in this role.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"Missing a day of work is a challenge for me since I am responsible for scheduling and ensuring many other people come to work as expected. For this reason, and the fact that I am a dedicated and truthful person, I will only call out of work in dire situations. Through my six-year career, I have called in sick just a handful of times. Thank goodness for ColdFX and immunity-boosting vitamins!"

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I missed around three days of university classes in total this past year. All absences were for a good reason, and I never missed a deadline. Rest assured, I am a dedicated person on whom others can rely. As a Food Service Manager, I would be sure to lead my team by example."

6.

Walk me through your experience in the food service industry.

Take a couple of minutes to bring your experience to life for the interviewer. Discuss your relevant positions and the responsibilities that came with them. Outline your experience and knowledge related to food-service and management. The key to successfully answering this question is to address your experience as it relates to this position and your future success as a Food Service Manager.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I began my career in food and beverage working for a catering company. First, as a busser, then a server, and then bartending. I made my way into a team leadership role within a couple of years. This job kickstarted my management career. For the past five years, I have been working for ABC Restaurant as their daytime manager. I lead a team of 25 people from kitchen staff to servers and hostess. I have a strong focus on customer service, food safety, and promoting a healthy work environment. I am eager to continue my successful food-service management career with your organization."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I recently graduated with a diploma in Hospitality Management and have many important skills to offer. My coursework covered Food & Beverage Production, Food Safety, Hospitality Law, and Front Office Management. I am proud to say that I graduated top of my program, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to compete for this position within your esteemed organization."

7.

How many people did you manage in your last position?

The interviewer would like to know more about the level of responsibility you are accustomed to having. Start with the most amount of people you have managed, even if it is not from your current or most recent position. It is okay to ask the interviewer how many people you would be leading in this role. If there is a significant increase in this role, from what you are used to, then you may need to overcome that potential objection of not having enough leadership experience.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"Currently, I have six full-time employees and five part-time associates and am the only manager in the restaurant. In a previous role, I had as many as 18 employees but had another manager with which I shared responsibilities. How many staff members would I be managing in this position?"

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I am new to my management career; however, I have led small groups of fellow students during group projects in university. In these instances, I was managing around four others, ensuring they submitted their work on time. I applied here with the utmost confidence that I can manage your team efficiently."

8.

What do you know about food costs and other related KPI's?

In the food-service industry, there are many metrics to keep your eye on, primarily when you work in a management position. Some key performance indicators include:

- Food cost percentage and food cost over food sales
- Food costs per head
- Kitchen labor cost over food sales
- Percentage of sales per selling items

These are just a sampling of the KPIs you may be asked to keep your eye on. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to deliver results surrounding the most critical metrics in this role.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"In my current position it's most important to my leadership team that I am on top of KPIs related to food and labor costs. These include food cost percentage and labor percentage over sales. I track these metrics every week and know where the ideal numbers should lay. When you hire me, you will hire an experienced Food Service Manager who can deliver the utmost in profitability."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"To prepare myself for this interview, I did a great deal of research on KPIs for the food and beverage industry. I am fantastic with numbers and can assure you that I would keep a close eye on the financial needs and performance of your business, should I be hired as your Food Service Manager."

9.

As a manager, how do you evaluate the performance of your staff members?

As a Food Service Manager, you must be aware of the performance of your team members. One under-performing staff member can drag down the entire group, so you must address any issues right away. Talk to the interviewer about the framework you use to remain aware of each team members' performance levels.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"In a highly transactional industry such as food service, I understand the importance of knowing how each staff member is performing. In my current role, I've created targets for each associate related to their speed of work and customer feedback. I run a weekly and monthly log of performance activities to ensure every member is performing equally. If anyone is falling short, we are quick to have a meeting to get back on track and evaluate what the barrier to success is. I would enjoy implementing a performance tracking method such as this one, should I be hired as your Food Service Manager."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"As your Food Service Manager, I will be prepared to have performance metrics in place to measure the success of each team member. I also plan to look at individual contributions to the team's goals. For example, if we are meeting key customer service targets, this will be an indicator to me that my team is performing well individually and as a group."

10.

How will you handle an employee who is not meeting their goals?

The interviewer would like to know how you handle under-performing employees. As a management professional, how do you treat employees who are not meeting targets and company expectations? Discuss with the interviewer your style when it comes to managing under-performing employees.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"If someone on my team is not living up to their expectations, I have a one on one conversation with them before their poor performance goes too far. I like to let them lead the conversation by asking, 'Why do you think I asked for some time today?' With very few exceptions, most people open up about being disappointed for falling short of their goals and offer up suggestions on how they think they can improve."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"If an employee were not meeting their goals, I would take an empathetic approach by asking them what I could do to support them in the workplace. If there were a recent example of their work falling short, I would refer to that - rather than an example from too long ago. From there, I would help them to set some goals or offer tips and tricks for increasing productivity."

11.

What personality traits do you look for in people you are hiring?

The interviewer would like to know more about the type of employees that you tend to hire. Everyone has a 'type,' even in the workplace. Talk to the interviewer about the characteristics and personality types that you tend to engage in and why you lean that way. Assure the interviewer that you have a lot of discernment when you hire people for your team.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"When hiring, I look at experience and employer loyalty, but most of all, I look for customer service competence. I also look for someone who has the personality and fit to thrive in a fast-paced food service environment. Could you share with me how may people you hire for this location, on average, every year?"

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I believe that in the food-service industry, it's important to be a people person, possessing an upbeat disposition, and a desire to make people happy. If a job seeker is determined, easy to hold a conversation with, and likable, they will succeed in most things related to the service industry."

12.

How would our business be a more productive place if we were to hire you as our Food Service Manager?

This query is another way of asking, 'Why should we hire you?' When you are asked a question like this, you want to respond with a highly specific answer and one that speaks of tangible results for the hiring authority. This question is not the place to express what you want in your career; instead, it's a time to show how your work will boost the performance of their organization.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I saw in your job posting that you are looking for a Food Service Manager who is keen on the bottom-line with an eye on maximizing profitability. If hired, I will make your business a more productive place by ensuring everyone is fully trained and aware of their primary responsibilities. By boosting employee engagement, I will increase profitability. I did this in my previous role, increasing profits by 28% in my first six months."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I am an energetic person who can easily gain buy-in from those that I lead. As your new Food Service Manager, I will re-engage any disengaged employees, saving money on expensive turnover and talent acquisition initiatives."

13.

Have you ever had to work within liquor regulations? Walk me through your experience working in a licensed environment.

Depending on the type of establishment you are interviewing with, you may be required to work with food and alcoholic beverages. The hiring authority wants to see your level of knowledge when it comes to liquor regulations in your area. Your response will depend on the level of experience that you bring, as well as the region where you live. Be sure to offer confidence to the interviewer that you have the knowledge required, or that you are willing to put the work in to learn.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"I have worked in licensed establishments for the past five years and am very familiar with liquor regulations in our region. I also have experience tracking liquor-related KPIs such as average profit percentage, gross profit on sales for wine, and liquor sales per head."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"Knowing that your organization is licensed, I have performed some research on what liquor regulations look like in our state. I am eager to learn and look forward to further training."

14.

Have you ever had to fire an employee? What were the reasons for their termination?

Terminating an employee is never a task that people like to do. Talk to the interviewer about how you go about employee terminations. How does that conversation usually sound? The interviewer will be looking for traits such as maturity, wisdom, and empathy in your response.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"Unfortunately, terminating employees is a part of being a manager. I recently had to separate employment with someone who was under-performing. I spent ample time coaching them. I offered additional training and worked with them on a performance improvement plan. When those efforts failed, I made sure to document everything so that I could make a clean termination when the time came."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I have never had to let anyone go from their job, and I am thankful for that. I have had teammates in group projects that did not pull their weight. l coached them heavily, and worked hard to re-gain their interest and buy-in to overcome the burden that their behavior left on our team."

15.

What qualities and characteristics should a Food Service Manager have?

Not only does the interviewer want to hear what you think are the top qualities of a Food Service Manager, but they also want assurance that you have these qualities yourself. Discuss what you believe to be three to five essential qualities and characteristics of someone in a food and beverage management role. Then, include examples of the way that you embody these characteristics.

Rachelle's Answer #1

"The qualities and characteristics that a Food Service Manager should have, include a keen interest in food safety, attention to detail, an ability to manage multiple situations at once, and a high level of energy. I possess these qualities and embody them every day on the job. The more energetic and engaged I am, the better I can handle stress and approach new challenges on behalf of my team. I am eager to take these qualities and many more, applying them to the role of Food Service Manager in your organization."

Rachelle's Answer #2

"I understand that your company is looking for a Food Service Manager who can lead by example, who is reliable and places emphasis on food safety. I am trained and certified in food safety. I am also looking for an opportunity where I can stay long term. My work history is strong, and I am a reliable person, no matter what the responsibilities are at hand."

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30 Food Service Manager Interview Questions
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Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about your formal customer service training.
  2. How do you feel about saying 'no' to a customer with unreasonable requests?
  3. Tell me about a time when you effectively delegated tasks to your team members.
  4. Talk to me about your favorite manager. What made them so memorable?
  5. The presence of our Food Service Manager is critical to our teams' success. How many days were you absent from work last year?
  6. Walk me through your experience in the food service industry.
  7. How many people did you manage in your last position?
  8. What do you know about food costs and other related KPI's?
  9. As a manager, how do you evaluate the performance of your staff members?
  10. How will you handle an employee who is not meeting their goals?
  11. What personality traits do you look for in people you are hiring?
  12. How would our business be a more productive place if we were to hire you as our Food Service Manager?
  13. Have you ever had to work within liquor regulations? Walk me through your experience working in a licensed environment.
  14. Have you ever had to fire an employee? What were the reasons for their termination?
  15. What qualities and characteristics should a Food Service Manager have?
  16. If you needed to hire a new food service representative in less than one week, what would be your strategy?
  17. The food service industry sees a lot of employee turnover. How do you plan to handle a disengaged or upset employee?
  18. What is your experience in planning, ordering, and record keeping when it comes to staff and inventory?
  19. Rate your listening skills from 1-10. What would your coworkers say about your listening skills?
  20. If hired as our Food Service Manager, how will you show your team the importance of clear communication on the job?
  21. How much do you think a food-service management role should pay?
  22. Do you think a chain of command is essential in the workplace?
  23. What do you think is the difference between a leader and a manager?
  24. Why do you want to be a Food Service Manager, and why do you feel ready for a role in management?
  25. Have you ever broken company rules to make a customer happy?
  26. As a manager, what is your greatest weakness?
  27. Where did you find this position, and what prompted you to apply?
  28. What do you expect to be the most challenging aspect of this Food Service Manager position?
  29. How do you promote a culture of food safety with your team?
  30. What do you like most about working in the food and beverage industry? What do you enjoy the least?
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